New approach to tackling violence against women in Tajikistan

International Alert is implementing a new approach to tackling violence against women and girls in rural Tajikistan, which takes into account traditional cultural practices in the country.

Abuse against women and girls is a widespread problem in Tajikistan, driven by gender inequalities and job insecurities. As with other parts of Asia, the family unit here extends to a bigger group of in-laws, and research shows they often exploit and are violent towards younger daughter-in-laws.

Interventions must therefore move beyond just focusing on changing husband/wife relationships if they are to be successful in reducing intimate partner violence (IPV). Following our research we are now using a ‘Stepping Stones’ method of intervention which takes these wider family dynamics into account when working with local communities. This is being implemented together with Italian INGO Cesvi and our local partners ATO, Farodis and Women of Orient.

The new evidence-based method was shared by the DFID-funded global programme What Works to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls, which ran a workshop in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Despite some challenges during adapting and implementing this approach, such as differing expectations and convincing the men we were targeting to come on board during the busy harvest time, a joint understanding was eventually reached.

The approach is now being implemented in four villages in Tajikistan that are part of aproject called Zindagii Shoista: Living with Dignity, which is part of DFID’s broader programme. Local people involved have taken to it positively, with reports of improved relationships between family members and the daily experiences of young women.

“My mother-in-law is gradually changing positively and is looking after her grandchildren now. She is trying now to avoid criticising me”, said one young woman. “My husband is becoming kinder. Yesterday we chatted with him and I asked as if joking whether he is thinking to have another wife. He responded that no, why should I marry someone else? I have a son and a daughter and I am content with my life”.

Find out more about our work in Tajikistan.